You might not find it surprising to learn that Nebraska has only produced 113 major league players. But, what you might find shocking is just how many of them are in the Hall of Fame – six players from the Cornhusker State have plaques in Cooperstown. Now, that might not sound like a lot, but it’s the highest percentage of any state. By comparison, California has produced over 2300 major league players. If the same percentage of players from California were in the HOF as Nebraskans, they’d have 122 … instead of 24.
The best player playing today from Nebraska is Alex Gordon, of the Kansas City Royals. The Lincoln native has been in 3 All-Star Games, and was instrumental in their World Series win in 2015. The best player I’ve ever seen from Nebraska has to be Wade Boggs. The Omaha native was a 5-time batting champion, 12-time All-Star, and is a member of the exclusive 3,000-hit club.
Runner-up to the best ever, though, (and it was a tough choice) is Bob Gibson. Gibson was absolutely dominant, winning 2 Cy Youngs, an MVP, striking out over 3,000, and winning 2 World Series MVP’s. He was unquestionably the most feared pitcher of his era, and is the primary pitcher responsible for the lowering of the mound after the 1968 season, when his ERA was 1.12! But, as impressive as that is, I have to give the nod to…
Pete Alexander – this Elba native won the pitching triple crown (wins, ERA, & strikeouts) an impressive 4 times! He is 3rd all-time in career wins with 373, and the only pitchers with more spent their entire careers pitching in the dead-ball era. He used a variety of breaking pitches, multiple speeds, and drove batters crazy by forcing them to swing and make weak contact on balls barely in the strike zone. Many considered him the most accurate pitcher the game had ever seen when he retired.
The state of Nevada has only produced 47 major leaguers, and no Hall of Famers … yet. There’s really only one name of note from years past – Barry Zito, who was a 3-time All-Star, Cy Young winner in 2002, and World Series champion in 2012. But, the intriguing names to come out of the Silver State are all currently playing in the majors.
Brandon Kintzler is an All-Star pitcher who has had a decent career. Tommy Pham appears to be a bit of a late bloomer that is playing well in Tampa Bay. And, Joey Gallo made his first of what looks to be multiple All-Star appearances this year. But, for the second time in as many posts, I’m going to have to go with a tie at the top.
Kris Bryant & Bryce Harper – Until you look at the numbers, you might not realize how similar these two are. Bryant is 3 seasons behind Harper in terms of major league experience. Which means Harper has the edge in the “counting” categories (total HR, RBI, etc.). But, they have nearly the exact same per-year HR, RBI, and hit outputs. And, believe it or not, Bryant actually has the slightly higher career SLG and OPS. It’s going to be pretty fun to watch these two friends and travel-ball teammates compete for the rest of their careers.
The small New England state has only produced 54 major league players, and no active players are on that list. Even the most recent players from the Granite State didn’t have very memorable careers.
The vast majority of players with decent careers from New Hampshire are pitchers. Brian Wilson was a 3-time All-Star, and an important part of the Giants’ World Series championship in 2010, when he led the league in saves. Bob Tewksbury pitched for 13 years, and had an All-Star appearance. Stan Williams pitched for 14 years, was an All-Star in 1960, and won the World Series with the Dodgers in ’59. Mike Flanagan was an All-Star in 1978, won the Cy Young in ’79, and the World Series in ’83 – all with the Orioles. But, the pitcher that is also the best player from New Hampshire is…
Chris Carpenter – the Exeter native has the best career win pct. of any New Hampshire pitcher (.605), and more strikeouts (1697). He is one of only three New Hampshire natives to appear in as many as three All-Star games, he was a 2-time World Series champ, and won the Cy Young in 2005.
Considering the population of the state (11th in the US), I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that New Jersey has produced quite a few major league players (437 – 10th most). I was a little surprised, however, by the lack of overall quality. Only 3 Hall of Famers (so far), and once you get past some of the biggest names, there really aren’t a lot of names you would recognize.
Current players include the likes of Jason Heyward, Todd Frazier, and Charlie Morton – all All-Stars, but not exactly “greats” of their generation. The same could be said for many of the names of previous generations of players from the Garden State. Some of the best players they have to offer include Andy Messersmith, Al Leiter, and Don Newcombe. Granted, Newcombe was very good, but his career was very short.
But, while the depth certainly isn’t there, when you consider the best New Jersey has to offer, there are some excellent players. Joe Medwick was a 10-time All-Star, MVP, and Triple Crown winner with the Cardinals and Dodgers. Goose Goslin was one of the best position players the Washington Senators ever had – helping them win their only World Series title in 1924. And, then, there’s the Captain. Derek Jeter, a Pequannock native, was a 5-time World Series champion, 14-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, and World Series MVP. And, his 3,465 career hits rank him 6th all-time. But, as great as Jeter was, a boy who idolized Jeter as a kid is the best ever from New Jersey.
Mike Trout – yes, he has only played 9 seasons. But, yes, he is already better than anyone else from the state. He’s the youngest player ever to reach 200 HR and 200 stolen bases. By the end of his age 27 season (this year), he will have more hits than Yasztrzemski did at the same point in his career, more HR than Mays did, more RBI than Ruth, more stolen bases than Molitor, and more walks than Rickey Henderson. 2 MVP’s already (and a 3rd one all but guaranteed this year), the only full season Trout didn’t finish 1st or 2nd in the voting was 2017, when he only played 114 games, due to injury, and he still led the league in OBP, SLG, and OPS, finishing 4th in MVP voting. There is no room for argument when it comes to who the greatest player is from New Jersey, because it’s clearly the greatest player of this generation.